RUNX1a enhances hematopoietic lineage commitment from human embryonic stem cells and inducible pluripotent stem cells.
ABSTRACT: Advancements in human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) research have potential to revolutionize therapeutic transplantation. It has been demonstrated that transcription factors may play key roles in regulating maintenance, expansion, and differentiation of hPSCs. In addition to its regulatory functions in hematopoiesis and blood-related disorders, the transcription factor RUNX1 is also required for the formation of definitive blood stem cells. In this study, we demonstrated that expression of endogenous RUNX1a, an isoform of RUNX1, parallels with lineage commitment and hematopoietic emergence from hPSCs, including both human embryonic stem cells and inducible pluripotent stem cells. In a defined hematopoietic differentiation system, ectopic expression of RUNX1a facilitates emergence of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) and positively regulates expression of mesoderm and hematopoietic differentiation-related factors, including Brachyury, KDR, SCL, GATA2, and PU.1. HPCs derived from RUNX1a hPSCs show enhanced expansion ability, and the ex vivo-expanded cells are capable of differentiating into multiple lineages. Expression of RUNX1a in embryoid bodies (EBs) promotes definitive hematopoiesis that generates erythrocytes with ?-globin production. Moreover, HPCs generated from RUNX1a EBs possess ?9-week repopulation ability and show multilineage hematopoietic reconstitution in vivo. Together, our results suggest that RUNX1a facilitates the process of producing therapeutic HPCs from hPSCs.
Project description:The proper balance of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) self-renewal and differentiation is critical for normal hematopoiesis and is disrupted in hematologic malignancy. Among regulators of HSC fate, transcription factors have a well-defined central role, and mutations promote malignant transformation. More recently, studies have illuminated the importance of posttranscriptional regulation by RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) in hematopoiesis and leukemia development. However, the RBPs involved and the breadth of regulation are only beginning to be elucidated. Furthermore, the intersection between posttranscriptional regulation and hematopoietic transcription factor function is poorly understood. Here, we studied the posttranscriptional regulation of RUNX1, a key hematopoietic transcription factor. Alternative polyadenylation (APA) of RUNX1 produces functionally antagonistic protein isoforms (RUNX1a vs RUNX1b/c) that mediate HSC self-renewal vs differentiation, an RNA-processing event that is dysregulated in malignancy. Consequently, RBPs that regulate this event directly contribute to healthy and aberrant hematopoiesis. We modeled RUNX1 APA using a split GFP minigene reporter and confirmed the sensitivity of our model to detect changes in RNA processing. We used this reporter in a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) screen consisting of single guide RNAs exclusively targeting RBPs and uncovered HNRNPA1 and KHDRBS1 as antagonistic regulators of RUNX1a isoform generation. Overall, our study provides mechanistic insight into the posttranscriptional regulation of a key hematopoietic transcription factor and identifies RBPs that may have widespread and important functions in hematopoiesis.
Project description:RUNX1 (also known as acute myeloid leukemia 1) is an essential regulator of hematopoiesis and has multiple isoforms arising from differential splicing and utilization of two promoters. We hypothesized that the rare Runx1c isoform has a distinct role in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).We have characterized the expression pattern of Runx1c in mouse embryos and human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived embryoid bodies using in situ hybridization and expression levels in mouse and human HSCs by real-time polymerase chain reaction. We then determined the functional effects of Runx1c using enforced retroviral overexpression in mouse HSCs.We observed differential expression profiles of RUNX1 isoforms during hematopoietic differentiation of hESCs. The RUNX1a and RUNX1b isoforms were expressed consistently throughout hematopoietic differentiation, whereas the RUNX1c isoform was only expressed at the time of emergence of definitive HSCs. RUNX1c was also expressed in the AGM region of E10.5 to E11.5 mouse embryos, the region where definitive HSCs arise. These observations suggested that the RUNX1c isoform may be important for the specification or function of definitive HSCs. However, using retroviral overexpression to study the effect of RUNX1 isoforms on HSCs in a gain-of-function system, no discernable functional difference could be identified between RUNX1 isoforms in mouse HSCs. Overexpression of both RUNX1b and RUNX1c induced quiescence in mouse HSCs in vitro and in vivo.Although the divergent expression profiles of Runx1 isoforms during development suggest specific roles for these proteins at different stages of HSC maturation, we could not detect an important functional distinction in adult mouse HSCs using our assay systems.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) provide supplies of potential functional blood cells to suffice the clinical needs. However, the underlying mechanism of generating genuine hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and functional blood cells from hPSCs remains largely elusive. METHOD:In this study, we supplied R-spondin2 exogenously during hematopoietic differentiation of hPSCs under various culture conditions and analyzed the production of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). We further added R-spondin2 at different temporal window to pin down the stage at which R-spondin2 conferred its effects. RNA-SEQ-based gene profiling was applied to analyze genes with significantly altered expression and altered signaling pathways. Finally, megakaryocytic differentiation and platelet generation were determined using HPCs with R-spondin2 treatment. RESULTS:We found that R-spondin2 generated by hematopoiesis-supporting stromal cells significantly enhances hematopoietic differentiation of hPSCs. Supply of R-spondin2 exogenously at the early stage of mesoderm differentiation elevates the generation of APLNR+ cells. Furthermore, early treatment of cells with R-spondin2 enables us to increase the output of hPSC-derived platelet-like particles (PLPs) with intact function. At the mechanistic level, R-spondin2 activates TGF-? signaling to promote the hematopoietic differentiation. CONCLUSIONS:Our results demonstrate that a transient supply of R-spondin2 can efficiently promote hematopoietic development by activating both WNT and TGF-? signaling. R-spondin2 can be therefore used as a powerful tool for large-scale generation of functional hematopoietic progenitors and platelets for translational medicine.
Project description:The transcription factors SCL/Tal-1 and AML1/Runx1 control the generation of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (pHSC) and, thereby, primitive and definitive hematopoiesis, during embryonic development of the mouse from mesoderm. Thus, Runx1-deficient mice generate primitive, but not definitive hematopoiesis, while Tal-1-deficient mice are completely defective. Primitive as well as definitive hematopoiesis can be developed "in vitro" from embryonic stem cells (ESC). We show that wild type, as well as Tal-1(-/-) and Runx1(-/-) ESCs, induced to differentiation, all expand within 5 days to comparable numbers of Flk1(+) mesodermal cells. While wild type ESCs further differentiate to primitive and definitive erythrocytes, to c-fms(+)Gr1(+)Mac1(+) myeloid cells, and to B220(+)CD19(+) B- and CD4(+)/CD8(+) T-lymphoid cells, Runx1(-/-) ESCs, as expected, only develop primitive erythrocytes, and Tal-1(-/-) ESCs do not generate any hematopoietic cells. Retroviral transduction with Runx1 of Runx1(-/-) ESCs, differentiated for 4 days to mesoderm, rescues definitive erythropoiesis, myelopoiesis and lymphopoiesis, though only with 1-10% of the efficiencies of wild type ESC hematopoiesis. Surprisingly, Tal-1(-/-) ESCs can also be rescued at comparably low efficiencies to primitive and definitive erythropoiesis, and to myelopoiesis and lymphopoiesis by retroviral transduction with Runx1. These results suggest that Tal-1 expression is needed to express Runx1 in mesoderm, and that ectopic expression of Runx1 in mesoderm is sufficient to induce primitive as well as definitive hematopoiesis in the absence of Tal-1. Retroviral transduction of "in vitro" differentiating Tal-1(-/-) and Runx1(-/-) ESCs should be a useful experimental tool to probe selected genes for activities in the generation of hematopoietic progenitors "in vitro", and to assess the potential transforming activities in hematopoiesis of mutant forms of Tal-1 and Runx1 from acute myeloid leukemia and related tumors.
Project description:RUNX1 is an important transcription factor for hematopoiesis. There are multiple alternatively spliced isoforms of RUNX1. The best known isoforms are RUNX1a from use of exon 7A and RUNX1b and c from use of exon 7B. RUNX1a has unique functions due to its lack of C-terminal regions common to RUNX1b and c. Here, we report that the ortholog of human RUNX1a was only found in primates. Furthermore, we characterized 3 Runx1 isoforms generated by exon 6 alternative splicing. Runx1bEx6(-) (Runx1b without exon 6) and a unique mouse Runx1bEx6e showed higher colony-forming activity than the full-length Runx1b (Runx1bEx6(+)). They also facilitated the transactivation of Runx1bEx6(+). To gain insight into in vivo functions, we analyzed a knock-in (KI) mouse model that lacks isoforms Runx1b/cEx6(-) and Runx1bEx6e. KI mice had significantly fewer lineage-Sca1(+)c-Kit(+) cells, short-term hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and multipotent progenitors than controls. In vivo competitive repopulation assays demonstrated a sevenfold difference of functional HSCs between wild-type and KI mice. Together, our results show that Runx1 isoforms involving exon 6 support high self-renewal capacity in vitro, and their loss results in reduction of the HSC pool in vivo, which underscore the importance of fine-tuning RNA splicing in hematopoiesis.
Project description:The transcription factor Runx1 (AML1) is a central regulator of hematopoiesis and is required for the formation of definitive hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Runx1 is alternatively expressed from two promoters: the proximal (P2) prevails during primitive hematopoiesis, while the distal (P1) dominates in definitive HSCs. Although some transcription factor binding sites and cis-regulatory elements have been identified, a mechanistic explanation for the alternative promoter usage remains elusive. We investigated DNA methylation of known Runx1 cis-elements at stages of hematopoietic development in vivo and during differentiation of murine embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in vitro. In vivo, we find loss of methylation correlated with the primitive to definitive transition at the P1 promoter. In vitro, hypomethylation, acquisition of active chromatin modifications, and increased transcriptional activity at P1 are promoted by direct interaction with HOXB4, a transcription factor that confers definitive repopulation status on primitive hematopoietic progenitors. These data demonstrate a novel role for DNA methylation in the alternative promoter usage at the Runx1 locus and identify HOXB4 as a direct activator of the P1 promoter. This epigenetic signature should serve as a novel biomarker of HSC potential in vivo, and during ESC differentiation in vitro.
Project description:Overexpression of miRNA, miR-24, in mouse hematopoietic progenitors increases monocytic/ granulocytic differentiation and inhibits B cell development. To determine if endogenous miR-24 is required for hematopoiesis, we antagonized miR-24 in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and performed in vitro differentiations. Suppression of miR-24 resulted in an inability to produce blood and hematopoietic progenitors (HPCs) from ESCs. The phenotype is not a general defect in mesoderm production since we observe production of nascent mesoderm as well as mesoderm derived cardiac muscle and endothelial cells. Results from blast colony forming cell (BL-CFC) assays demonstrate that miR-24 is not required for generation of the hemangioblast, the mesoderm progenitor that gives rise to blood and endothelial cells. However, expression of the transcription factors Runx1 and Scl is greatly reduced, suggesting an impaired ability of the hemangioblast to differentiate. Lastly, we observed that known miR-24 target, Trib3, is upregulated in the miR-24 antagonized embryoid bodies (EBs). Overexpression of Trib3 alone in ESCs was able to decrease HPC production, though not as great as seen with miR-24 knockdown. These results demonstrate an essential role for miR-24 in the hematopoietic differentiation of ESCs. Although many miRNAs have been implicated in regulation of hematopoiesis, this is the first miRNA observed to be required for the specification of mammalian blood progenitors from early mesoderm.
Project description:Definitive hematopoiesis requires the master hematopoietic transcription factor Runx1, which is a frequent target of leukemia-related chromosomal translocations. Several of the translocation-generated fusion proteins retain the DNA binding activity of Runx1, but lose subnuclear targeting and associated transactivation potential. Complete loss of these functions in vivo resembles Runx1 ablation, which causes embryonic lethality. We developed a knock-in mouse that expresses full-length Runx1 with a mutation in the subnuclear targeting cofactor interaction domain, Runx1(HTY350-352AAA). Mutant mice survive to adulthood, and hematopoietic stem cell emergence appears to be unaltered. However, defects are observed in multiple differentiated hematopoietic lineages at stages where Runx1 is known to play key roles. Thus, a germline mutation in Runx1 reveals uncoupling of its functions during developmental hematopoiesis from subsequent differentiation across multiple hematopoietic lineages in the adult. These findings indicate that subnuclear targeting and cofactor interactions with Runx1 are important in many compartments throughout hematopoietic differentiation.
Project description:Notch signaling regulates several cellular processes including cell fate decisions and proliferation in both invertebrates and mice. However, comparatively less is known about the role of Notch during early human development. Here, we examined the function of Notch signaling during hematopoietic lineage specification from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) of both embryonic and adult fibroblast origin. Using immobilized Notch ligands and siRNA to Notch receptors we have demonstrated that Notch1, but not Notch2 activation, induced HES1 expression and generation of committed hematopoietic progenitors. Using gain and loss of function approaches, this was shown to be attributed to Notch signaling regulation through HES1, that dictated cell fate decisions from bipotent precursors either to the endothelial or hematopoietic lineages at the clonal level. Our study reveals a previously unappreciated role for the Notch pathway during early human hematopoiesis, whereby Notch signaling via HES1 represents a toggle switch of hematopoietic vs. endothelial fate specification. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have differentiation potential into three embryonic germ layers including blood. Notch signaling is one of important signaling pathways involved in blood differentiation of hPSCs. Thus, in order to examine the effect of Notch signaling pathways during hematopoietic differentiation of hPSCs, embryoid bodies (EBs) were formed and cultured for 10 days in the combination of cytokines and growth factors (Chadwick, Blood, 2003; 300 ng/ml of SCF, 300 ng/ml of Flt-3L, 10 ng/ml of IL-3, 10 ng/ml of IL-6, and 50 ng/ml of G-CSF) to induce differentiation into blood. Additionally, CD31+CD45- bipotent hemogenic precursors were isolated from day10 hematopoietic EBs (Wang et al., Immunity, 2004)
Project description:Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) or its reverse process mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) occurs in multiple physiological and pathological processes. However, whether an entire EMT-MET process exists and the potential function during human hematopoiesis remain largely elusive. Utilizing human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-based systems, it is discovered that while EMT occurs at the onset of human hematopoietic differentiation, MET is not detected subsequently during differentiation. Instead, a biphasic activation of mesenchymal genes during hematopoietic differentiation of hPSCs is observed. The expression of mesenchymal genes is upregulated during the fate switch from pluripotency to the mesoderm, sustained at the hemogenic endothelium (HE) stage, and attenuated during hemogenic endothelial cell (HEP) differentiation to hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). A similar expression pattern of mesenchymal genes is also observed during human and murine hematopoietic development in vivo. Wnt signaling and its downstream gene SNAI1 mediate the up-regulation of mesenchymal genes and initiation of mesoderm induction from pluripotency. Inhibition of transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) signaling and downregulation of HAND1, a downstream gene of TGF-?, are required for the downregulation of mesenchymal genes and the capacity of HEPs to generate HPCs. These results suggest that the biphasic regulation of mesenchymal genes is an essential mechanism during human hematopoiesis.